Experiential tourism is an umbrella term for emerging tourism models that are dedicated to conservation & understanding of the cultural, historical & environmental heritage of a destination. It's a world-wide tourism trend based on balancing economic growth with resource conservation & protection. This business model has shown to engender sustainable communities where all stakeholders benefit from balanced economic growth.
Experiential tourism has emerged as an alternatives to mass tourism, which usually refers to large numbers of vacationers in popular resort-style destinations. Mass tourism has been widely criticized for the negative effects brought by its uncontrolled development, with visitors concentrated in very high density over seasonal periods of time. In many examples across the globe, indigenous people have been pushed aside & economically marginalized by multi-national hotel projects.
This tourism model [mass tourism] in some cases is known for exploiting sensitive natural resources, neglecting participation of the local communities & defined as not being a “genuine” way of traveling & experiencing a place. (David Fennell, 2008).
In their 2001 Global Forecasts & Profiles of Market Segments, the UNWTO identified experiential tourism (which encompasses ecotourism, nature, heritage, cultural, soft adventure tourism, rural & community tourism) as among the sectors expected to grow most quickly during the coming two decades.
This type of tourism experience is becoming more & more popular with consumer shifts towards sustainable lifestyles & environmental responsibility. More & more, travelers are seeking authentic cultural experiences vs. vacation in a traditional brick & mortar hotel.
With most tourists wanting to escape their day to day hectic schedules during vacations, experiential tourism offers the opportunity to unwind in places untouched by commercialization, visiting unexplored areas & mingling with the local population.
With the rise of on-line platforms like AirBnB, travelers get to choose from a broader range of accommodation styles & genuine experiences among the local community.
Both environmentally conscious travelers, as well as industry stakeholders around the world are recognizing the importance of sustainable tourism development. What’s emerging are business models where environmental protection & conservation are a key part of the overall tourism experience & synonymous with the day-to day operations.
Experiential tourism involves active participation by travelers in the experience & promotes activities that draw people outdoors, and into cultures and communities. In this sense it is very personal and individual. Essentially, experiential tourists seek memorable experiences. (William L. Smith. 2006)
Experiential tourism offers many benefits both social & economic for tourism-based communities. The model encourages a business culture based around comradery & working together as a destination. It's simply about good business practice – protecting the resources the industry depends on to ensure the destinations continue to thrive, long into the future.
“...there is increasing recognition among both travel professionals and consumers of the importance of responsible travel – travel that minimizes negative impacts, brings economic benefits to host communities, and preserves the cultural and natural resources of the destinations. There is strong evidence that responsible travel is also good for the bottom line.” (Transforming the Way the World Travels - The Case for Responsible Travel: Trends and Statistics - CREST)
As one of the top tourism destinations in the country & consistently ranked among the top 20 tourism destinations world-wide; San Diego is in need for development of eco-tourism & more sustainable tourism development.
The annual economic impact of the San Diego tourism industry is more than $18.3 billion. We only have a handful of companies catering to the experiential tourism market, which represent a major sector of global tourism worth $70 billion as of 2009.
Alter Experiences LLC is dedicated towards encouraging the development of sustainable tourism models in San Diego county. We need to move quickly as a community if we expect to adopt & remain competitive in emerging global tourism trends. We feel that the community of Julian, along with the whole of the Central Mountain Regions, has the opportunity be the pioneer of experiential tourism development in San Diego. We could position our region as the first ecotourism destination in the county & thereby bringing some exciting & much needed tourism trends in San Diego.
Experiential Tourism Statistics
- According to a 2012-2013 TripAdvisor survey, 79% of travelers globally “think that it’s important that accommodation providers have eco-friendly practices.
- According to the World Tourism Organization’s (UNWTO) 2012 Tourism in the Green Economy Report, “Tourist choices are increasingly influenced by sustainability considerations.
- Ecotourism, nature, heritage & cultural are predicted to grow rapidly over the next two decades, and global spending on ecotourism is expected to increase at a higher rate than the tourism industry as a whole.
- 7% of business travelers prefer staying in a green-certified hotel, according to Timetric’s Global Business Traveler Survey 2013.
- 95% of business travelers surveyed believe the hotel industry should be undertaking ‘green’ initiatives, and sustainability will become a defining issue for the hospitality industry in 2015 and beyond, according to Deloitte’s Hospitality 2015 report.